My CCD Attempts

I have done something insane in July 2001 and purchased a Starlight Express MX7-C CCD camera. Yeah, it's a British company, but their equipment is good quality, and not very expensive. This camera, as compared with my beloved Nikon Coolpix 990, has several advantages: 1) It's cooled; so you don't get too much static in the pictures you take; regardless of how long the exposure is. In fact, hardly any. 2)  It takes color pictures, with a single shot. It does this without color wheels or multiple exposures.

(I said "insane", because it was well out of my budget range, and it got stuck in Turkish customs. I had to pay a fat customs duty fee. I finally got it; it took about 2 weeks altogether.)
ccd nin parcalari (guc kaynagi gorunmuyor) It consists of three pieces:
  • Camera itself
  • 220 Volt power supply. (it also has a plug for 12 volt, so you can use it in the field) 
  • A 'fast adaptor' that plugs into the parallel port.
Here is the heart of the camera; the CCD that actually is the light-sensitive part of the camera. I had read that a CCD is 1000 times more sensitive than regular 35mm film.  The chip is a Sony; and it roughly has 558x780 "resolution"
Yeah this picture looks ugly when it's small (click on any of the pictures to enlarge it). This is the computer interface. You connect one end to the parallel port, and it has two wires coming out; one to the CCD and the other to the power supply. It takes about 13 seconds to download a picture to your PC. not too bad. There is also a USB version of this interface that suppose to do the same in 4 seconds. 
Here you see the power supply and the camera head. It had a beautiful British plug on it, with a built-in fuse. I had to remove and put a Turkish plug on it. Too bad!
here you see it attached to the telescope. I dont know why I had the diagonal attached as well; but this was my first day, and I did not know any better! 
This is the first night of the CCD camera!
Do you see the colorful thing under the scope, that's a money pouch! That's my counterweight!! :)
it has some plumbing supplies in the pouch, and works great :) and looks like hell. Then again, no one sees it because I turn off the lights!


It comes with some decent software. It manages taking pictures, and can do things like multiple pictures and automatic black frame removal. It also has a focus mode where it keeps displaying what the camera is seeing in a little window. 
Oh yes, it also can set the exposure for you, too!
Once you click the TAKE PHOTO, a picture appears in 13 seconds. Now you can use the image processing tools of the software to get rid of glitches, sharpen the picture, improve the contrast, whatever. To the left, you can see the "stretching" operation in progress. This enables you to have true whites, true blacks, and lots of colors in between!
For those who are curious: Thats part of Andromeda Galaxy, M31. A lttle skewed, and stars elongated because of my poor tracking.


Lessons Learned:

Some Initial Pictures

I really dont have too many pictures; most of my initial attempts have had stars trailing.

I think that's M51..

It's been said that everyone takes pictures of the Ring Nebula. I wonder why!
More coming soon, I hope!